Under soccer coach Alan DeRitter, the De La Salle High School soccer team traveled to Spain for two weeks this summer to have fun and to improve their playing skills.
The first week, the boys visited Barcelona and Madrid as tourists, visiting palaces, museums, cathedrals, a temple and soccer fields, and they participated in a Spanish festival. The second week, they practiced and competed against four other teams, including one from Norway, two from Spain and one from the United States.
Cavaliers who participated in the two-week tour included DeRitter, Tristan Autin, Devin Lockett, James Kelley, Chris Towell and Jeremiah Hernandez. Also joining in the opportunity were Dylan Hauser and Oscar Rivera of Opelousas High School and Andrew Guidroz of Opelousas Catholic. Additionally, Cavaliers Scott Lauland, Sallah AbuMousa and Fynn LaBreche joined the team in the second week for the competition.
Senior Devin Lockett said, “The team from Norway was huge! All these guys were over 6 feet, blond and blue-eyed. They looked like brothers and played like Vikings.” He added that being in the very competitive atmosphere, watching the other teams practice and train with such intensity, gave the Cavalier team members a different perspective on the sport. “The electric atmosphere was amazing,” Lockett said, “and I believe we will be stronger for having experienced it.”
Senior Jeremiah Hernandez said, “I liked touring the Real Madrid and Barcelona stadiums.” He added, “Soccer is very intense in Europe. They take it more seriously than we take football. We watched and learned a whole lot.” He added, “We saw how the game is supposed to be played, and it has helped raise our confidence level.”
“Soccer is much higher-paced in Europe,” Tristan Autin said. “These guys are playing at a level higher than we’ve seen in the States, but that was good because now that we’ve seen that level of play, we won’t be as intimidated this year.”
“This experience will really improve us,” Chris Towell said. “The quality of the other players was so high, we found ourselves playing at a higher level to compete with them.”
“I went to Spain with my players in order to accelerate the growth of our program. Going to Europe and seeing the game as it was meant to be played helps players to develop faster and develop a strong love for the game,” DeRitter said. “I’ve already seen a huge difference in the boys, and the fact that they’re now training harder than they’ve ever trained and realize the seriousness of the training. I hope that when games are played this season I will see the difference on the field as well.”